Good Nights for Good Mornings

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

We all need and deserve a good night’s sleep. Not only does sleep help keep us healthy and improve our mood, but it is also crucial for learning! While we sleep, our brains consolidate all the information and events of the day, helping us to remember them in the future. At each stage of life, we need a different amount of sleep to do that. A newborn baby, for instance, needs up to 16 hours of sleep per day because they are learning so much. An adult, on the other hand, may only need 7-9 hours to function at their best.

It can be challenging when your child just won’t sleep (or they only sleep for a few hours at a time). Although there are recommended guidelines for the ideal amount of sleep we need at different ages, each person is unique. There can be a variety of reasons why someone might struggle with sleep, including biological, medical, and environmental factors. All these factors should be taken into consideration when working to improve you or your child’s sleep.

What does the bedtime routine look like?

Are there challenges getting started with the bedtime routine? Children often have a difficult time ending a fun activity to go to sleep. Really, who wants to stop watching TV to go brush their teeth?! Try using a timer or verbal warning that their current activity will be ending soon. Some children may need multiple forewarning (e.g., 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute), while others may be ok with just one. Then be sure to follow through with ending the activity. If you don’t, or choose to negotiate, your child will learn that the timer or verbal warning doesn’t mean anything.

It can also be easier transitioning from a preferred activity to a neutral activity rather than an aversive one. For example, leaving the TV to go turn on the hall light might be easier than directly brushing teeth. You can also try making the physical transition more engaging. How about:

  • Racing to see who can get to the bathroom the quickest
  • Jump like kangaroos around the room then into the bedroom
  • Bring out a choice of books and let them walk to the room with it

“My child can’t fall asleep!”

Remember how hard it was for you to fall asleep the night before a big event that you were excited about? Our bodies need to be in a calm state to fall asleep and highly stimulating activities can impact that. Consider removing technology for an hour before bedtime or switch to something more calming, such as colouring, reading books or listening to soft music.

Are they tired enough?

In order to fall asleep, we need what’s called, “sleep pressure.” This is the feeling our bodies get that makes us want to sleep. When we first wake up, we don’t have much sleep pressure because our bodies don’t need it. When we’ve been up for a while and keeping busy, however, our bodies want to sleep much more. Ensure you give your child ample physical (and mental!) activity throughout the day. Consider sleep and wake times as well. If your child wakes up at 8am, they will likely need a later bedtime than a child who wakes up at 6am.

For more help with sleep, contact us at Sweet dreams!